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Complaints about telecommunications companies increase as Rogers outage top of mind

Rogers leads the way with 17.4 per cent of all complaints, says report
People use electronics outside a coffee shop in Toronto amid a nationwide Rogers outage, affecting many of the telecommunication company's services, Friday, July 8, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

Complaints about Canada's telecommunications companies were up 12 per cent from a year ago, while a service outage at Rogers Communications last summer helped make the company the most complained-about provider for the first time, according to a new report.

The mid-year report by the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-Television Services' (CCTS) found Rogers led the way with 17.4 per cent of all complaints. 

The report tallied complaints about 144 companies received from Aug. 1, 2022 to Jan. 31. Nearly 7,500 complaints were accepted, of which 88 per cent were resolved.

Rogers was the subject of 1,294 complaints, as its total for the six-month period rose 29 per cent compared with a year earlier.

The number of complaints by Rogers customers about complete loss of service issues almost doubled, largely driven by the 187 complaints accepted by the CCTS related to the company's outage on July 8 and dissatisfaction with the subsequent compensation it offered.

Rogers announced July 12 it would credit its customers for five days of service following the mass outage that left millions of Canadians without cellular and internet service.

The company has also hired more than 1,000 customer-facing roles since October and said it plans to continue investing in additional capacity to meet higher demand.

"We’re committed to doing the right thing for our customers and we’re working hard to make their experience better," said Rogers spokesman Cam Gordon in a statement.

"We had millions of customer interactions over the past six months and while only a small number resulted in complaints, we know we can do better. This includes hiring more frontline staff, providing more training, proactively communicating with customers more often, and listening to our customers to help us improve."

Meanwhile, Bell accounted for 14.9 per cent of complaints, but the company saw a 6.1 per cent decline from a year earlier, totalling 1,110 submissions in the first half of the 2022-23 year.

Bell Canada president and CEO Mirko Bibic said in a press release he was "extremely proud" of the company's progress.

"Our continued improvements in CCTS results is evidence that Bell's strategy to champion the customer experience is working, even as complaints increase across the telecommunications industry overall," the release states.

"Our investments in our network, enhanced service and digital tools are clearly making a difference, as is our customer-first approach."

It was followed by Telus at 13 per cent of all complaints received, as the company saw its complaints spike by 81.3 per cent, from 535 to 970, compared with last year.

Telus did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Rounding out the top five, Rogers-owned Fido received 11.9 per cent of complaints and Telus-owned Koodo garnered nine per cent. 

There were 481 complaints about Freedom Mobile, accounting for 6.5 per cent of all grievances, while Bell-owned Virgin Plus' 457 complaints made up 6.1 per cent of the total.

The commission said more than half of all issues raised by consumers were about mobile services, followed by complaints about internet issues, which accounted for more than a quarter.

There were 36 confirmed Wireless Code breaches, 14 confirmed Television Service Provider Code breaches and four confirmed violations of the Internet Code.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 5, 2023.

Companies in this story: (TSX:RCI.B, TSX:BCE, TSX:T)

Sammy Hudes, The Canadian Press